How To Talk To Your Partner About Contracting An STD

Photographed by Lauren Perstein.
By Emily Pisacreta

Someone asked us:

How do I tell my partner that they gave me herpes? I don’t know if he knew he had them or not. I really like him and I don’t want to mess anything up.

The best way to talk about STDs with your partner is exactly the way you wrote your question: without judging, and with compassion. Feeling judged or blamed makes people defensive and stop listening. It’s not a good way to have any conversation.

You’re probably guessing you got herpes from your current partner because you had an outbreak of sores during the course of your relationship — and you may be right. But lots of STDs, like herpes, can have no symptoms for months or years after you get them. So there’s no way to know for sure who gave you herpes.

Regardless of who had it first, you guys have got to talk about it. If you’ve been having sex, especially if you’ve done it without a condom or dental dam, it’s very possible that you both have it.

Related: I've Never Had An Orgasm — Is That Normal?

So how do you start the conversation? Find a time and place where you feel comfortable talking openly. That might mean letting him know ahead of time that you need to talk about something private. And set the tone by saying you’re not there to accuse him or make him feel bad, and that you’re letting him know about this because you care about him and want to be honest with each other.

It also helps to have information about what to do next. It can be pretty upsetting to find out you have an STD, and it’s important to know where to turn for help. He can get testing and treatment at his nearest Planned Parenthood health center — and so can you, if you haven’t already made sure to take care of number-one (that’s you!).

Herpes isn’t fun, but it’s super common and not the end of the world. Lots of couples who have it enjoy healthy, active sex lives. The openness and compassion you’re bringing into this conversation is rad, and it shows that you’re a major catch. He’d be a fool to let this mess anything up.

Next: Can You Get Pregnant In A Bathtub?

To learn more about the services Planned Parenthood offers (in song form), check out Her Shorts.

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